Nochikuppam as a Tourist Destination???

While discussing the various tourist destinations in Chennai, Nandhu joked that maybe we could promote the slums of Chennai as a tourist destination. To me it seemed like a stroke of brilliance, foreigners will visit slums, and are likely to fall ill, and we can admit them in our high end hospitals and generate revenue. ;-). Nandhu might have his wish come true, if Mr Miller has his way.

An American folklorist, Eric Miller, seems to think that the slums of Chennai, especially the traditional fishing hamlets which existed before the city of Madras was founded can be promoted as a tourist destination. Miller hopes promote Nochikuppam as a tourist destination by showcase their culture consisting of traditional cooking, crafts and lifestyle. On july 15th they plan to unveil a ‘Catameran Festival” reflecting their lifestyle at the Kabaddi Ground near the Nochikuppam police station, where their traditional lifestyle, will be showcased, using photographs and street plays.

There will also be guided tours through Nochikuppam where visitors will have the opportunity to see the fishermen at work, using their catermarans while women plan to showcase their handicrafts. Later on in the evening there will be a cultural programme, with a drama, containing the Oppari, Thallaatu and Padagu songs which traditionally belong to this community. The Thallaatu and Padagu songs are fine but the Oppari? Which is traditionally sung when some one dies, showcasing that form of music seems a bit odd to me?

The biggest concern will be the environment, in its current state Nochikuppam will drive tourists away rather than attract tourists, but Miller hopes to launch a drive and maintain the area cleanly. If his plan does succeed, it will be a boon to the people living there, whose lives was devastated by the tsunami.

3 Comments so far

  1. bastet (unregistered) on July 13th, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

    In principle I do think it’s a good idea to show the tourists the local culture. Nowadays many tourists want to learn about the normal living of the people in the visited countrys.
    But if you do make an event for tourists to show them the “real” people in their “real” life they’re making a show.
    I also know the be-touristed-view because I’m originally from Munich. As a once poorer part of Germany, Bavaria has benefited from the tourists a lot. But I really hate these culture-sell-outs like the “Hofbraeuhaus”. You’d hardly find people from Munich there (maybe the staff).
    I know many tourists are making an Europe-in-a-week-tour (maybe the same that make a India-in-a-week-tour) so they don’t have the time to visit the hidden festivals in the villages. They want dances, songs, beer, mugs, leather trousers and all the traditional stuff. Now and here on the spot. So many things they get to see are fake. It’s sad but true.
    Although also very commercial and full of fake-tradition-things, that are getting worse every year, the Oktoberfest (mostly known as the beer-festival) still is a little different. Because it’s an old festival for the people of Munich and of course for the guests from all over the world. That’s why many inhabitants do come here and guests can meet, talk and celebrate with them.
    So, I hope if they make a festival in Chennai it’s for everybody and not just another tourist-show.
    By the way, I think dances and songs can only stay real if they are performed for the locals and within the correct context and not just to please the tourists.

  2. ro (unregistered) on July 13th, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

    I work for a news channel and would like to speak to Miller about this. How do i contact him?

  3. Tom (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 3:07 am

    Big ups to this idea. There is definitely a market for this, especially in the South, which tends to attract a different breed of Western tourist. The key will be to have the groups be small, so as to be as unintrusive as possible (or as is possible for vellays in this town).

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